slan'-der (substantive, dibbah, "slander"; diabolos, "slanderer"; verb raghal, "to slink about" as a talebearer, lashan, "to use the tongue," "to slander"; diaballo, "to calumniate," "to slander"; and other words): Slander (etymologically a doublet of "scandal," from OFr. esclandre, Latin scandalum, "stumblingblock") is an accusation maliciously uttered, with the purpose or effect of damaging the reputation of another. As a rule it is a false charge (compare Mt 5:11); but it may be a truth circulated insidiously and with a hostile purpose (e.g. Da 3:8, "brought accusation against," where Septuagint has diaballo, "slander"; Lu 16:1, the same Greek word). Warnings, condemnations and complaints in reference to this sin are very frequent, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. Mischievous "tale-bearing" or "whispering" is condemned (Le 19:16; Eze 22:9). There are repeated warnings against evil-speaking (as in Ps 34:13; Pr 15:28; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; Jas 4:11; 1Pe 3:10), which is the cause of so much strife between man and man (Pr 16:27-30), and which recoils on the speaker himself to his destruction (Ps 101:5; 140:11). Especially is false witness, which is "slander carried into a court of justice," to be condemned and punished (Ex 20:16; De 19:16-21; compare Pr 12:17; 14:5,25; 19:5; 21:28; 24:28). Special cases of slander more than usually mean are when a wife's chastity is falsely impeached by her husband (De 22:13-19), and when one slanders a servant to his master (Pr 30:10). Even a land may be slandered as well as persons (Nu 14:36). Slanderers and backbiters are mentioned in some of Paul's darkest catalogues of evildoers (Ro 1:29-30; 2Co 12:20; 2Ti 3:3). To refrain from slander is an important qualification for citizenship in theocracy (Ps 15:1,3; 24:3-4) and for a place in the Christian church (1Ti 3:11; Tit 2:3). Jesus Himself was the victim of slanders (Mt 11:19) and of false testimony (Mt 27:63). The apostles, too, came in for a full share of it (e.g. Ac 24:5 f; Ac 28:22; 2Co 6:8). In the case of Paul, even his central doctrine of justification was "slanderously reported" as if it encouraged immorality (Ro 3:8). The devil (= "the calumniator") is represented as the great accuser of God's people (Re 12:10), the slanderer paragraph excellence (compare Job 1:9-11; Zec 3:1).
See also CRIMES ; PUNISHMENTS.
D. Miall Edwards